By Steve Wittich

Braden Eves was able to survive three restarts and a quick teammate to start his rookie Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship campaign with four straight wins.

Only two other drivers in USF2000 history have won the first four races of the season. Jay Howard won the first six races to start the 2005 season and the next year, J.R. Hildebrand won the first seven races of the season. Both drivers went on to win the championship.

The 20-year-old scored 65 of a possible 66 points, only missing out on the point for the quickest race lap in Friday’s race, to grow his championship lead from 15 to 33 points

Braden Eves navigates the “esses” on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course on the way to his second win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

“With Darren behind me at the start, I was able to give him a little more of a draft because he’s further behind in the championship, but that was about it – we’re teammates off track, and we help each other to get better, but it’s all on when we’re racing,” said the 20-year old. “I focused on what I needed to do and keeping him behind me. But it still hasn’t set in, my start to the season, especially since Darren has been right with me all through testing. Everyone at Cape Motorsports is working super hard, and they’re very good at what they do, and everything has worked in my favor so far. It was so cool to see all the fans out there today – it really puts it all in perspective on the cool down lap, when everyone is waving at you. It’s a great feeling.”

Darren Keane finally got a result that matched his pace. The veteran from Deerfield Beach, Fla. had the quickest lap of the race twice, and the second and third fastest in his other two starts.

“I finally figured out how to go for it on that last restart,” said Keane. “I had been a little conservative earlier in the race because Hunter was so close; I didn’t want to make a mistake. The car was different from yesterday and it took a while to figure out how to make it go fast. Now I know what to do when I’m in that position the next time. But I have been pretty mellow since everything that happened at St. Pete, and that’s why I think I handled what happened yesterday so well. When something bad happens, I just focus on what’s next, working on my mindset. It allows me to filter the bad stuff a lot easier, and while I’m super happy now, I know that I can do better, and I can build from this. Points make prizes, and I took some good points this weekend.”

$200K Mazda Road to Indy Shootout winner Hunter McElrea extended his podium streak to four to start his rookie season. Typically, that would result in leading the title hunt, but the American-born Kiwi’s impressive start has been muted by Eves equally scintillating start to the season.

“We’re only four races into a long championship, and we’ve had a pretty good start, aside from Braden winning all four races. I learned from yesterday; it was a race I should have won, but that’s in the past. It was a solid race today and good points, so we’re focusing on the long run. It’s very easy to look at something with a smaller mind like I did yesterday, but I am on the podium at Indianapolis. I’ve watched races from here ever since I can remember so this is a dream come true. Thanks to Mazda Motorsports for giving me the opportunity, Pabst Racing and all my supporters at home.”

Eves trip to victory lane was the ninth in 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course races for brothers Nicholas and Dominic Cape. The St. Petersburg, Fla. based team now has 17 podiums at this event, ten more than their closest rival Pabst Racing.

The first of three Road To Indy races on the final day of the INDYCAR Grand Prix got the green flag at 9:15 am. The sun was shining, but the temperature was struggling to reach 50F.

The Cape Motorsports duo on the front row immediately lined up nose-to-tail and held the position through the treacherous Turn 1. Behind them, the other 19 drivers were able to get through Turn 1 cleanly.

The running order at the end of the first lap was Eves, Keane, McElrea, Crawford, Shields, Baron, Kaminsky, Dickerson, Miller, Barrichello, Famularo, Sundaramoorthy, Rasmussen, Gold, Bogle, Round-Garrido, Siegel, Tomaselli, and Cabrerra.

Zach Holden who was slotted to start sixth was not able to take the green flag due to a mechanical issue, and Manuel Cabrera, who started ninth was immediately off the pace and was forced to retire after seven laps with a mechanical issue.

The biggest mover on the first lap was Legacy Autosport veteran Baron who ended the first lap seventh after starting 12th.

Sulaiman’s run of reliable results began to unravel when he fell from fourth to eighth on Lap 2 after experiencing problems shifting. Things would only get worse from there for the DEForce Racing rookie.

Eves gapped Keane by 1.5 seconds as the pair of Cape Motorsports drivers started the third lap of the race. Keane had McElrea right under his rear wing.

Behind the front runners, Dickerson, Sulaiman and Miller were engaged in a good battle for seventh, that ended when the bright red No. 40 of Miller and the metallic blue No. 12 of Sulaiman fell down the running order to 18th and 19th respectively.

The first caution of the 20-lap race came out as the leader crossed the line to start Lap 6. Jay Howard Driver Development driver Matthew Round-Garrido had an incident in Turn 7. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team got him restarted, and he came to pits where the Jay Howard Driver Development crew got him back on track.

The top ten when the yellow-flag came out were Eves, Keane, McElrea, Crawford, Shields, Barron, Dickerson, Kaminsky and Barrichello.

The green flag came out on Lap 7 and Eves was able to hold his lead over his teammate.

Eves turned the quickest lap of the race to that point on Lap 8 and held a 1.2 second lead over his teammate. McElrea was pressuring Keane, with a Crawford a safe distance behind them in fourth.

The driver on the move was a late addition to the field Dickerson who had moved to fifth.

On Lap 11, McElrea was able to get around Keane for second place.

The second yellow of the race came out soon after for an incident involving Miller who retired from the race.

The top 10 at that point were: Eves, McElrea, Keane, Crawford, Dickerson, Baron, Shields, Barrichello, Rasmussen and Famularo.

The green flag came out to start lap 13. On the restart Keane was able to get past McElrea to retake 2nd, Baron went by his Legacy Autosport teammate Dickerson for 5th and Rasmussen up to 7th

The caution flag came out for the third time on Lap 14 when Sulaiman spun in Turn 1 and was forced to retire due to contact. The Mexican driver was assessed an avoidable contact penalty for an incident with

At the same time, Shields fell down the running order, ending the race in 16th.

The top 10 when the field came back across the yard of bricks was Eves, Keane, McElrea, Crawford, Baron, Dickerson, Rasmussen, Barrichello, Famularo, and Kaminsky.

Keane looked to the outside of Eves on the long run down to Turn 1 on the Lap 18 restart but was not able to make a move.

Barrichello got the best restart, getting by three drivers to move into the top five, the rookies best result of the season.

Eduardo Barrichello makes the 90-degree right into Turn 1 on the way to his career USF2000 finish. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Eves lead over Keane at the white flag was 0.7 seconds. Keane had his hands full defending again from McElrea, but was able to hold him off to claim the middle step of the podium.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Grand Prix of Indianapolis Race #2 Results








Braden Eves

Cape Motorsports




Darren Keane

Cape Motorsports




Hunter McElrea

Pabst Racing




Jak Crawford

DEForce Racing




Eduardo Barrichello

Miller Vinatieri Motorsports




Alex Baron

Legacy Autosport




Dakota Dickerson

Legacy Autosport




Christian Rasmussen

Jay Howard Driver Development




Anthony Famularo

BN Racing




Colin Kaminsky

Pabst Racing




Bruna Tomaselli

Pabst Racing




Reece Gold

Cape Motorsports




Yuven Sundaramoorthy

Pabst Racing




Nolan Siegel

Newman Wachs Racing




Christian Bogle

Jay Howard Driver Development




Cameron Shields

Newman Wachs Racing

-1 LAP



Matt Round-Garrido

Jay Howard Driver Development

– 2 LAPS



Manuel Sulaiman

DEForce Racing

– 6 LAPS



Jack William Miller

Miller Vinatieri Motorsports

-10 LAPS



Manuel Cabrera

Exclusive Autosport

– 13 LAPS



Zach Holden

BN Racing